Sunday, January 11, 2009

Strict Liability

Why do you think strict liability exists?

Strict liability exists because contract and tort laws are designed to generally protect the consumer but also to limit liability for negligence to those parties responsible for it be they manufacturers, distributors or retailers. In the case of inherently dangerous products such as inflammables, chemicals, acids and other explosives or cutting tools heightened awareness of danger requires higher standards of limitation of defects, either in manufacturing or design and adequate fail-safe warning systems.

For example, handling a gas powered chain-saw is considered quite dangerous especially if the user is under-trained or under-aware of its dangers. Minimum training and safety requirements for on the job operators need to be enforced to prevent contributory negligence. Chain saw safety courses also exist at the provincial level to educate and train users to a minimum level of safe maintenance and use.

However product design safety features including: chain brakes, chain catchers, working safety throttle switches, working on/off switches, and spark arresters are required features of the product. If any are found defective strict liability would be enforced on any injury claims.

"Red Cross Chainsaw Safety Recommendations"

What is the justification for strict liability?

Dangerous goods need extra special attention to liability avoidance. It is a means to monitor and strictly enforce safety standards and would encourage industrial manufacturers of dangerous goods to exceed a level of diligence and use extreme vigilence in the production and sale or distribution of its products. For example professionals may be trained as certified fireworks display technicians. However if the fireworks they use are faulty strict liability claims would be enforced on any injuries of spectators.

"Pyrotechnics Guild International: Fireworks Training"

"Fireworks explosion at Enschede, Netherlands"

Isn’t the imposition of liability without a showing of fault rather unfair?

The previous fireworks example apparently caused 23 dead, 950 wounded, 500 companies damaged and 1250 people homeless, with a damage cost of ƒ1 billion dutch guilder or 454 million euros/$302 million US dollars. Another good example is the Bohpal Disaster. The fault is evident in the Union Carbide production and safety requirements at the factory. No one else was involved with making chemicals there. Strict liability faults rely heavily on delictual principles.

"The bhopal gas disaster Part 3 - (National Geographic)"

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